I learned a valuable lesson this week that I thought I’d share with you.
Let me ask you something: what is your job?
You’ve probably just pulled up a mental picture of a job description. The thing you tell people at a cocktail party when they ask you what you do. You’ve probably said something like “I’m a project manager for IT projects,” or “I work in accounts payable,” or “I’m a customer support specialist.” And, if I were to answer that question – I’d say “I run the operations of a professional services organizations.” It is what my job description says, after all.
But, the lesson I was reminded of this week is this – my job is also to make my manager’s life better. The way I do that is by making the operations of our professional services company run smoothly. For our project manager, the way she makes her manager’s life better is by ensuring the project stays on budget and on schedule. For our accounts payable clerk, he makes his manager’s life better by ensuring everything is paid on time and nothing is overpaid. Our customer support specialist handles customer issues in a manner that they don’t get escalated.
How do you do your job in a way that makes your manager’s life better? Think about it for a minute. How are you contributing to your manager in a way that makes their job easier?
What value are you adding for your manager?
More Personal than Objectives
There are a lot of articles and books that talk about how important it is to ensure that employees are able to tie their objectives to the corporate objectives. Can each employee tie what they do to the overall success of the company?
Having spent my entire career in back office type roles, I know first hand that it can really be a stretch to do this sometimes. Many times,, the company objectives are sales related, which means that if you aren’t in a sales or marketing role, it can be hard to see how what you do contributes to the company objective. It can sometimes feel like the company doesn’t value your role as much as the sales team because all eyes are focused on the corporate objective of growing revenue.
If you struggle to tie your work to your company’s objective, what I’m suggesting is that you change your perspective. Don’t think of it in terms of objectives. Think of it in terms of tying what you do every day to how that makes your manager’s job easier – up the chain then everyone is contributing to the company’s objective.
This takes something a bit esoteric – objectives – and makes them more personal. Finding ways to make your manager’s life easier brings it to the personal level. I think it is also more fulfilling. Let’s be honest – most of us work for companies with objectives that aren’t really all that fulfilling. That’s ok – you can get your fulfillment through other means. One of which is by becoming an employee that makes life easier for others.
Although this is a philosophy I’ve had for a long time, I was reminded of it this past week. We’ve been really under the gun for the last few months at work because we’ve had some record quarters and we are understaffed. Everybody is swamped an that inevitably means things start falling through the cracks. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out who to get us back on track and wasn’t coming up with any great solution.
Then, I changed my approach and asked myself – what could I do to make Scott’s life better. Scott, as you might guess, is my manager. Once I started thinking of it in those terms, I came up with two ideas that could really make a difference. After spending some time on those two ideas, I narrowed in on the one that I could really sink my teeth into and moved ahead with it.
There is something about putting the question into human terms that really opened up a new set of options for me. Rather than solving this esoteric problem, I was simply trying to help Scott. And by helping Scott, I free him up to use the time on something else. And, if that continues up the chain of command, then we will achieve our corporate objectives.
Spend some time this week thinking about what you are doing to make your manager’s life easier. Not only will you feel more fulfilled by doing this, you’ll also be more successful at work because manager’s reward employees who make their job easier.
Also, put this technique into your toolkit so that the next time you are stuck, you might be able to use it to become unstuck like I did this week.
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